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Mol Pharm. 2012 Jan 1;9(1):168-75. doi: 10.1021/mp200434n. Epub 2011 Nov 22.

Targeting cell surface alpha(v)beta(3) integrin increases therapeutic efficacies of a legumain protease-activated auristatin prodrug.

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Department of Immunology and Microbial Sciences, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, United States.


Novel monomethylauristatin E (MMAE) prodrug 8 was designed and prepared that bound cell surface glycoprotein integrin αvβ3, and was activated using legumain protease as a catalyst. Upon activation, prodrug 8 strongly induced the death of MDA-MB-435 cells that express integrin αvβ3 on cell surface. Efficacies of prodrug 8 were also determined in vivo using animal models of 4T1 murine breast cancer, D121 Lewis lung carcinoma, and MDA-MB-435 human breast cancer. The results demonstrated that prodrug 8 decreased tumor growth and metastasis effectively. In comparison to the parent cytotoxin, MMAE, and prodrug 3, prodrug 8 was less toxic to mouse white blood cells. The latter caused no loss in weight gain of mice at a dose 3 mg/kg, which is over 30 times in excess to MMAE (0.1 mg/kg). We hypothesize that overexpression and colocalization of integrin αvβ3 and legumain protease on tumor cells, tumor vasculature, and/or tumor microenvironments can be exploited to enhance the efficacy and selectivity of potent cytotoxins, such as MMAE, which is otherwise too toxic to use for therapy.

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